What Do Speech Therapists Actually Do?

What Do Speech Therapists Actually Do?

While many people might be familiar with the terms “speech therapist” “speech therapy” or “speech-language pathologist,” not everyone knows the answer to the question “What is a speech therapist?” Speech therapists are highly trained and educated to work with people who are struggling with their communication skills. A speech therapist, also referred to as a speech-language pathologist (or SLP,) is a healthcare professional who works to diagnose and treat disorders related to communication abilities and oral motor skills. They work with people of all ages in various settings, typically online, in schools, clinics, and hospitals. If you want to learn more about what a speech therapist does and how they can help you reach your goals and strengthen your communication skills, schedule your free introductory call today! 

What Training is Required to be a Speech Therapist?

In order to become a speech-language pathologist, one must hold a master’s degree from a program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. These programs include comprehensive classes about the assessment and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders and at least 375 hours of clinical experience. Once they have graduated from their program they must complete a one-year medical training period with a minimum of 1,260 hours working under the supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist. Finally, the candidate must pass an extensive exam in order to become certified as a speech-language pathologist. 

What Conditions Does a Speech Therapist Treat?

A speech therapist is an expert in all conditions and disorders related to speech and language skills, as well as oral motor skills. Some of the most common conditions treated through speech therapy are:

Speech Disorders

Speech disorders are defined as difficulties with the production of sounds and sound combinations. Some of the most widely treated of these are apraxia, dysarthria, stuttering, resonance disorders, and articulation disorders (ex lisp.) 

Language Disorders

Language disorders relate to difficulty understanding language and/or expressing oneself through language. Some of the most common types of language disorders seen by speech therapists are aphasia, expressive language disorder, and auditory processing disorder.

Social-Communication Disorders

Social-communication disorders affect one’s ability to communicate socially. Things such as greetings, asking and answering questions, participating in conversations, and communicating appropriately for the situation can be affected. In some cases, difficulty with communication in social situations can be related to Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or medical conditions such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders

Cognitive-communication disorders are usually the result of traumatic brain injury that affects such things as attention, organization, memory, or reasoning. These disorders often also cause difficulties with skills such as speaking, listening, writing or reading. Some of the most common causes of cognitive-communication disorders are traumatic brain injury, dementia, or stroke.

Delayed Speech Development in Children

One of the most common conditions that is treated by an SLP is speech or language delays in children. While there is a wide range of normal when it comes to the development of speech and language skills, there are certain milestones that most children are meeting at certain ages. When a child fails to meet these milestones, early intervention with a speech-language pathologist is paramount. If you’re concerned that your child may not be using or understanding speech at a level appropriate for their age, talk with your child’s doctor. They can refer you to a speech-language pathologist who will then conduct an evaluation of your child. If a child does have a speech or language delay or disorder, seeking out resources and therapy early offers the best outcome for your child. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

Some of the other conditions that are typically treated with speech therapy are:

Swallowing Disorders

Difficulty with Communication after an Illness or Injury

Difficulty with Eating and Swallowing after an illness or injury

Hearing Loss 

Does Speech Therapy Work?

There have been a great many studies done on the efficacy of speech therapy and research has shown that time with a speech therapist can have a tremendously positive effect on the development and retention of speech and language skills in people of all ages. With over 7.5 million people in the US affected by a communication disorder, speech therapy is the number one resource for support and guidance when it comes to strengthening communication skills. 

During the first appointment, the speech therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of the person’s existing skills, as well as where their challenges or difficulties may lie. They will also inquire about the person’s goals and ideal outcomes through speech therapy. The SLP will then use this information to identify a diagnosis (if appropriate) and create a completely customized treatment plan. The treatment plan will include activities and exercises that can be done during the appointments as well as those to be practiced at home. Treatment with a speech therapist can go on for anywhere from 6 months to indefinitely depending on the type and severity of the condition that is being treated. Most appointments are 30-60 minutes in length and take place weekly or bi-weekly. The more frequent the appointments are the sooner you will meet your goals. 

Can I Do Speech Therapy at Home?

In recent years, bringing speech therapy onto a telepractice platform has become more popular. Online speech therapy is an excellent option for anyone who might benefit from time with an accredited speech-language pathologist. Attending your appointments online means no wasted time commuting to your appointment or sitting in the waiting room. You can meet with your therapist anywhere you have a quiet room and a wi-fi connection. For children, taking speech therapy online often results in them being more engaged and enthusiastic about their appointments. Children are naturally drawn to and interested in technology, and at Great Speech, we use this to our advantage! With over 50 registered SLPs on our platform, finding the perfect therapist for you or your child’s needs is as simple and easy as ever. If you want to learn more about how a speech therapist can help you or your child with your communication skills, schedule your free introductory call today!